The development of a special kind of electronic skin could totally change the worlds of robotics, augmented reality, and more.
In a stunning new development, scientists have unveiled an “electronic skin” that could not only heal itself, but could be recycled into an entirely new product, as we reported recently. But there are many fascinating details about this material that warrant further examination of just what it is, and how it could impact our world.
This “e-skin,” detailed in a recent study published in the journal Science Advances, is made up of a thin film that can sense pressure, temperature, and other things we can sense with our real skin. It is formed with a nanoparticles matrix from three compounds, allowing it to be re-bonded if cut and two, and liquified by a special solution so it can be recycled.
We have already discussed its applications in the world of robotics, but there are other industries where this technology could be tremendously useful. Augmented and virtual reality is one of those uses, as it could substitute for bulky gloves in VR environments, or allow the user to interact with everyday objects in the physical world via augmented reality, according to an IEEE report.
That has applications not only in gaming, but to physical therapy, security, and even business.
“What is unique here is that the chemical bonding of polyimine we use allows the e-skin to be both self-healing and fully recyclable at room temperature,” said Assistant Professor Jianliang Xiao, who is leading the research effort with CU Boulder chemistry and biochemistry Associate Professor Wei Zhang. “Given the millions of tons of electronic waste generated worldwide every year, the recyclability of our e-skin makes good economic and environmental sense.”